As part of a loose, unscheduled and infrequent series of interviews with bloggers from competing teams, Jeff Clark at CelticsBlog has agreed to answer a few questions about the Celtics and his own view of the Pistons. There's a lot of talent around SB Nation, and we'd be foolish not to take advantage of it-- to explore an outside perspective on our own Detroit Pistons.
When we think Celtics fans, the initial image is not a friendly one. But hey, what do those outside of our own fanhood think of us? Jeff Clark and the crew (and commenters) as CelticsBlog have shown themselves as the educated, objective and open fans that we think of ourselves at DetroitBadBoys. Since we're tied under the banner of SBNation, I think it'd be interesting to test some common ground, to draw a line of neutrality and commonality when we're NOT playing on the court. Hey, when our teams meet this Tuesday, it's time for competitive lumps between us fans. The red, white and royal blue and the green and white will always be adversaries, but since we're not yet at war, let's see what diplomacy can yield...
MP - One knock on the defense-first Pistons beyond 2005 is that their core was aging, the Eastern Conference was getting better around them and the half-court game they focused on was becoming passe. With today's Boston Celtics, their core is aging, the conference is improving around them and their pace was the league's 8th slowest in 2009-10. Do you feel a connection between your Celtics today and the Pistons in the late 2000's? (bonus question: is Shaq today's Chris Webber?)
JC - Absolutely. Your description of the aging Pistons is the textbook case of what I was worried about all last year and really what I continue to worry about. Toss in a sprinkle of "we'll be fine in the playoffs" attitude and you have a recipe for disaster. Or so I thought. Turns out they were right last year. They got things together and got 6 minutes away from a title. I just hope it doesn't become the status quo (and honestly, how do you convince them otherwise when they did it last year?).And yes, [Shaq and Webber is] a pretty good comparison - though I'm hoping for more of a Bill Walton in 1986. Wishful thinking and all that.
MP - Where do you feel that Rajon Rondo will fall in the memory of today's generation of point guards? On this Celtics team, where does he rank in terms of importance to the team's success?
JC - I think Rondo will continue to mature and improve. He's already so great and he already has a ring, but I think he can cement his legacy by taking the torch from the Big 3 and carrying the team into the next generation. He is the engine that drives this team (if you'll pardon the semi-pun Piston reference). They won't be running smoothly without the other parts of the car (KG is the axle, Paul is the shell, Ray is the wheels, Doc is the steering wheel, etc.) but Rondo makes the whole thing go.
MP - If you could swap any player on the Celtics roster for a player in Detroit (within reason, of course), who would that be?
JC - Ben Gordon has some appeal because he would be an ideal scorer off the bench, but I'd probably have to go with Tayshaun Prince. Doc loves tall 3's and we could use a true defensive presence to spell Pierce. Marquis Daniels has looked much more comfortable in that role this year, but I think Prince (or at least the Prince I remember) would be an upgrade. With that said, I don't think there's a reasonable trade that makes sense salary wise to make that happen. So if you remove that constraint then you can have our worst player, so... enjoy Von Wafer!
MP - What are your feelings about Rasheed Wallace and his performance as a Celtic now that he has retired from his contract with Boston?
JC - Touched on it above, but I think he was good for what he was brought in for. I was never one to really over-criticize him for taking 3's and raking up the technicals because you get what you get with him. But he stepped up in the playoffs and gave a real great effort when it mattered most and that's all I could ask of him. Gotta tip my hat to him for walking away when he did as well. Seems like the kind of guy that would be really interesting to have a conversation with.
MP - With a Celtics team that won just 24 games before turning the team around and winning the NBA Finals, what advice can you give to Pistons fans about dealing with difficult seasons?
JC - Well, first of all, I don't need to give Piston fans pointers on how to be diehards. But if you are looking for a "hang in there, there's light at the end of the tunnel" speech, the best I can offer is this. The game is funny and fickle sometimes. You could wait another 20 years to become relevant again or it might change overnight. I don't think Dumars has lost his fastball. He's still the guy that built your teams that were so good for so long. But it takes luck too. People thought Ainge was a nut before he pulled off those deals. Remember the good times, enjoy the little victories, and look forward to better times ahead.
Thanks for sharing, Jeff! Jeff runs a solid show over at Celtics Blog, and if you do visit be sure to show that community the same respect you show this one. Hate the jerseys all you want, but the fellows supporting them over there are certainly a solid cast.